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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 654897

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


ND23NW 1 2048 3520

See also ND23NW 7 and ND23NW 17.

(ND 2048 3520) Dun and Settlement (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

Wag of Forse: An Iron Age site with successive periods of occupation including a dun (Young 1964; MacKie 1965) and wags, apparently only part of a complex which extends along the E edge of a rocky outcrop. It was partly excavated by Curle (1941; 1948) in 1939 and 1946-8.

The sequence of occupation appears to consist of huts of three periods, overlaid by a dun, which was succeeded and partly destroyed by wags, both elongated and round. The site is partly bounded by a turf wall on a substantial stone base with, at least on the W, an external, V-shaped ditch, the period of which is unknown.

MacKie (1965) likens the dun, with its massive double entrance to the pre-broch gatehouse forts of Shetland. It measures 47ft in internal diameter within a wall 4 to 5ft thick, rising from a heavy scarcement. Just inside the entrance a flight of stairs leads off to the ruined wall-head (recalling the entrances to some of the Caithness brochs, including that at Yarrows - ND34SW 1).

Excavation finds, most of which were donated to the NMAS, included several saddle-querns but only one, broken, rotary quern. From the original hearth in hut 'C' (see plan) came a pot with LBA-EIA parallels (1965). The most sophisticated pottery came from a small round wag, not shown on plan, in area 'H'. No metal was noted.

A O Curle 1941; 1948; 1950; A Young 1964; E W MacKie 1965.

A partially excavated Iron Age occupation site, consisting of a dun and galleried dwellings, as described and illustrated by Curle. Excavated material overlies some of the dwellings and the outer turf-covered wall, rendering their identification virtually impossible.

There are undoubtedly more huts beneath the tumble, and also to the S (see ND34SW 7 and ND34SW 12 ) where numerous large slabs protrude through the turf. There was an associated field system, evidenced by a low bank running from the outer rampart, but this has been destroyed by much later field walls and cultivation, and cannot be accurately determined. Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (N K B) 11 May 1967.

If the primary structure is a dun it is unique although the stair in the entrance section has analogies in the Keiss brochs (ND36SE 2 and ND36SE 3 ).

The secondary longhouses are unusual in the British Iron Age but may bear comparison with the wooden longhouses with internal rows of roof-posts of the northern European Iron Age.

'It is quite possible that at Forse we have a rare fragment of evidence for the arrival in north-east Scotland of prehistoric settlers direct from the continent, an influx of people who may have laid the foundations of the Pictish nation of proto-historic times. Certainly the dun appears to be earlier than the Caithness brochs and to have contributed some elements of its architecture to them.

E W MacKie 1975.

The entrance block in the circular ring-fort differs from that of the blockhouse forts in that the structure does not project forwards beyond the curve of the wall, which externally it does not interrupt, and it is of one build with the wall.

R G Lamb 1980.

No change to the previous reports except that the protruding slabs noted to the S by the previous field investigator do not appear to have any archaeological significance.

Visited by OS (J M) 24 March 1983.

Classified by Close-Brooks as broch and settlement.

J Close-Brooks 1986.

Scheduled with ND23NW 7 and ND23NW 17.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 30 January 2003.

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